As Governor Jim Doyle prepares to deliver what will be his final state of the state address, some Republican state legislators say the Democratic governor has failed to follow through on a promise made to 8th graders. In his state of the state address four years ago, Doyle said 8th graders who signed the Wisconsin Covenant Pledge, and lived up to its conditions, would be eligible for financial aid packages for college.
State Senator Luther Olsen says that was a pretty broad promise, and the funding simply isn’t available to back it now that the promise is coming due. “There is no money. There probably will be no money,” says Olson. “And what’s really interesting is, when the chickens come home to roost on that promise that he made, he’ll be long gone.” State Senator Randy Hopper says the promise raised hopes and funding shortages will dash them. “The governor came back last week and said ‘well, we have enough for two years of you education,’ so we’ll see exactly how that plays out,” says Hopper. “We ought to not be making those kind of promises from Madison, to people around the state.”
Olsen says giving students incentive to exceed in school is a worthwhile effort, but the follow through on this particular promise isn’t there. UW Madison political scientist Charles Franklin wonders whether the Covenant can survive after Doyle leaves office. “BadgerCare is an example (of a state program which originated with a Wisconsin governor) that’s held on, W-2 has held on, as constituencies have built up around it. I’m afraid that, in the case of the Wisconsin Covenant, at least at this point it’s unclear that there are constituencies that will sustain it, in the absence of Governor Doyle being in office.” Doyle delivers his final state of the state address before a joint session of the legislature tonight.
KFIZ’s Bob Nelson contributed to this report
AUDIO: Bob Hague reports (1:15 MP3) AUDIO: Bob Hague reports (1:15 MP3)